John Stuart Mill: A Biography

Nicholas Capaldi, Author
Nicholas Capaldi, Author Cambridge University Press $52.99 (456p) ISBN 978-0-521-62024-6
Reviewed on: 01/12/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
Paperback - 458 pages - 978-1-107-40703-9
Open Ebook - 456 pages - 978-0-511-16259-6
Hardcover - 457 pages - 978-0-511-16614-3
Ebook - 458 pages - 978-0-511-16499-6
Open Ebook - 436 pages - 978-1-280-43758-8
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While he is considered to be the greatest English intellectual of the 19th century, Mill (1806-1873) is often reduced to a set of parochial engagements with his""utilitarianism."" In this authoritatively comprehensive analysis of Mill's lifelong explication of the""liberal culture"" spawned by the Industrial Revolution, Loyola professor of business ethics Capaldi presents a probing account of the personal, social and environmental influences on Mill and his relationship to major intellectual precursors and contemporaries. Interspersed with a series of close readings of his mostly political essays and reviews, Mill's life is cast from a diverse quilt of perspectives, including schoolfriends Coleridge and Carlyle, which reveal the pluralistic character Victorian England. From his struggles with his father, James Mill, and the Benthamite Philosophical Radicals that saw him as their progeny, to his relationship with his wife Harriet Taylor (in""the most talked about affair of the 19th Century""), Mill's immense intellectual influence is situated within the social relationships that provide a revealing depth to his views on education, politics and feminism. Perhaps the most important element of this work is its presentation of Mill's uniquely organic synthesis of British ratiocination with German Romanticism that represented a nexus of Mill's educational heritage and his mature encounters with Continental thinkers, such as Kant and Hegel, Comte and Tocqueville. Capaldi's liberal use of primary texts and vigilant concern for intellectual context reveal Mill's thought as reflective of the overall Enlightenment turn towards integrating science, logic and metaphysics into politically oriented theories aimed at creating social equality. Capaldi's sensitivity to intellectual cross-currents breathes new life into Mill, for whom there is no other biography currently in print, and gives an outstanding account of 19th century European social-philosophical thought.
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